How many times have you heard people complain that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans? They complain that it really doesn’t matter who is elected, things never change. While at one time there was some validity to that complaint, today that is far from the truth. There was a time when there were both moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats. There was also a time when the word compromise wasn’t synonymous with weakness and treason. During this “golden age” in the House and the Senate, moderates from both parties worked together to craft legislation that was acceptable to both sides. Certainly there were instances when compromise was exceedingly difficult, but at this time ideology most often gave way to pragmatism for the benefit of the nation. It is a fact that during this time both parties had members who represented extremes on both sides, however they were on the fringe and rarely had the power or clout to impact significantly on legislation. In 1964 the GOP nominated a representative from the extreme right to be its candidate for the presidency, and they were met with a resounding defeat. That was then, but things are significantly different today.
A Wall Street Journal poll completed on May 5th of this year provides a snapshot of how much things have changed. The priorities of the primary voters of the Democratic Party are very different from the priorities of the primary voters of the Republican Party. A majority of Democrats polled, as well as a majority of all voters combined, were of the opinion that job creation and economic growth needed to be the top priority of the Federal Government . In contrast, the majority of Republicans polled saw national security and terrorism as the number one priority of the Federal Government, with job development and economic growth as the third priority of the Federal Government. Given this result, it is not surprising to observe that most of the rhetoric coming from GOP Presidential candidates is related to issues of national security and terrorism while Democratic Presidential candidates have focused on topics related to job creation and economic growth. However, it is not only the Presidential candidates that are focusing in this way. These same priorities are played out daily on the floor of the Senate and the House. The troubling inaction by the legislature to respond to issues related to the economy while focusing on tired and empty accusations related to national security and terrorism by the GOP majority is illustrative of this chasm between the parties. Not only has there been no compromise, there has been no vehicle set up, such as a conference committee, to achieve compromise. It is a wonder that the GOP views national security and terrorism as a strength after the debacle created by Bush, while Obama successfully took out Osama Bin Ladin. I guess they hope that people have short memories.
It is a fact that there is a major difference today between Democrats and Republicans. The Republicans have been taken over by ideologies that live far to the right. The old “establishment” Republicans responsible for nominating McCain and Romney have lost favor with the majority. It seems that the Republican nominee this time will be more representative of the extreme wings of the Party. The only chance for the GOP to go in another direction will be with Jeb Bush or Chris Christie. One has a name problem and the other has behavior problems. If I am correct and the GOP nominee comes from the far right, no one will be able to complain that there is no difference between the two parties. For one thing, I believe that the chance that American soldiers will once again find themselves in harm’s way somewhere in the Middle East will increase with a GOP President. This is the Republican economic growth and jobs program. Let’s not allow them that chance.